Recently I was on Instagram looking through my newsfeed of photos as I spotted a jumper that I absolutely loved! Now, although I don’t identify as someone who is all that into fashion, I certainly have moments when I see an article of clothing that I cannot stop thinking about. This was one of those moments.
This black jumper with full, billowy sleeves and a low cut back stole my heart the moment I scrolled down to see it. I commented on the photo asking what sizes and colors it came in. They quickly replied and I decided that I had to have this jumper. I replied to let them know I was headed there.
Now, mind you, this ‘local’ boutique isn’t quite close. Thirty-five minutes and some traffic later, I arrived at the boutique so excited to try it on and purchase for my 30th birthday celebration. The young lady had it in hand ready for me as I walked in. It looked as lovely on the hanger as it did on the model in the photo.
I grabbed two other options to try on as I walked through the boutique to the dressing room. Once I slipped into the dressing room, my heart began to quicken with excitement and I began to try it on. Goodness gracious, I had to strategically shimmy and shake my hips past the waistline seam to get all the way into the jumper. Of course, at this point, I began sweating which only made matters increasingly tricky.
I finally got into the jumper, but still needed the assistance of the young lady to get it zipped over my hips. I stood in front of the mirror and played around with the sleeves, pant legs, and the hanging scarf which was meant for the plunging neckline. I loved it and yet something was…off. I continued to turn and pose, pull and tug, tying the scarf in different ways and still couldn’t put my finger on it.
Then, as I stood in front of the large mirror, it dawned on me – the jumper was extremely slimming. It slimmed in all the ‘right’ areas. It slimmed my thighs, rump, and even my hips. I thought to myself, “If anyone who knew me saw this on my body and my head was covered up, they would never know it was me.” This realization saddened me. I have certainly had a difficult relationship with my body, especially with my hips as a young teen and yet, I was shocked to feel sad about being slimmed.
I decided to try on the other two options I had brought into the dressing room. Both underwhelmed me. I never purchase clothing I don’t love, so I decided to skip all three items. I stepped out of the dressing room and explained to the young lady that I was going to pass on the jumper. I told her, “I don’t like that it slims me and my hips so much – it doesn’t look or feel like me.” She looked at me perplexed and said, “Really? It looked incredible.”
I felt her response was genuine, not sales-y. It made sense why she couldn’t quite understand why I was forgoing on this must-have jumper. I mean, how many of her work days did she help women shrink in size by visually dressing them with all of the ‘tricks’? How many times had she heard a woman say she loved a particular item or outfit based on it making her feel or look skinny? And here I was rejecting that exact desired effect.
I thanked her and walked out to my car. I sat for a moment in the car in a sort of disbelief. I couldn’t believe what had just transpired. I had NEVER not bought something because it made me feel or look skinny.
When I got home, my twin came running out demanding me to put on the must-have jumper for her to see. I explained to her I didn’t purchase it because it made my hips slim and she reacted as everyone else had. “You mean you didn’t buy it because it made you look skinny? What?!”
This was confusing to her because in our very size-conscious culture we are always looking for ways to shrink and shove ourselves into the box of “skinny.” Plus, she understood that I have gone to extreme lengths to be skinny which certainly included wearing slimming clothing. Except…this time I didn’t. I chose authenticity. I chose to be me which meant not purchasing an outfit that would downsize my beauty or my true self.
So, what did I decide to wear to bring in my 30th year (which happens to be on Valentine’s Day)? This fabulously simple piece that highlighted my body in all of its natural glory, gold wedge heels, and the sweet necklace my husband purchased for my birthday!
Dress by Forever 21, find it here
Necklace by Dogeared, find it here
Shoes by Charlotte Russe, find similar here
Until next time,
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Lily A. Zehner is a sex therapist, blogger, and doctoral student at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. Her private practice is located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
She is passionate about living authentically and helping clients do the same. She believes that letting our real selves shine is the key to self-love and finding true intimacy with others. She believes all bodies are good, beautiful, and perfectly imperfect. At times she struggles with this about her own body, but self acceptance can be a challenging road and it’s one she’s willingly chosen.